Most people tend to become compliant when ordered to do so by a
police officer in a high-stakes type of predicament. But perhaps
those suffering severe mental illnesses are more likely to be
non-compliant - maybe due to decreased awareness of what is going
on around them? Could this explain the seemingly apparent proneness
for tasers to be used by the police in these predicaments? Dr Raj
Persaud - consultant psychiatrist - discusses the way the
metropolitan police use tasers with police officers Matthew Fox and
Adam Smith of the Specialist
Welcome to the Taser website. I’m Dave Musker, Commander in charge
of armed policing and Taser within the Metropolitan Police.
Taser has been available in the UK since 2003 and is probably one
of the most discussed and controversial topics on the use of force
agenda. It is with this in mind that I think its essential we
provide as much information we can regarding Taser through all
forms of media and this website.
The Metropolitan Police has acknowledged the controversy
surrounding Taser and have implemented a raft of measures to ensure
we get it right. I believe we have the best training in the world
with extremely robust policies and procedures to manage the
day-to-day operational deployment of the device.
Whilst we are confident we have such comprehensive procedures in
place, we are not complacent and we have a dedicated team of
officers who continually review what we do and how we do it. I am
also keen to continue to engage with all communities and interested
parties in London as this will help us to understand the concerns
that are out there and deal with any emerging issues.
We have formed a Taser Reference Group with a wide, independent and
constructively critical membership to help me oversee the use of
taser in London - see related link within Professional training and
I would also like to point you in the direction of some interesting
documents and pages in this website. You will find a recent
document published by the London Assembly Police and Crime
Committee called ‘Arming the Met’ - see related documents.
We are engaging with the committee to ensure we meet, discuss and
address the recommendations within. We are grateful to the
Committee for their suggestions which are constructive and provide
a good direction for the MPS to follow.
The College of Policing website, which details how police officers
across the UK are trained is also a valuable source of information
- see related link for College of Policing website.
Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of
Psychiatrists - you can listen to this conversation and others with
a new free app on iTunes and Google Play Store entitled 'Raj
Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information
on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews
with top experts from around the world.
THE ARTICLE BELOW MAY BE OF INTEREST - ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE
The anniversary of the Great Train Robbery is being marked in
various ways - The
Times newspaper reports that a Monopoly set, played by
the Great Train Robbers using real cash, while they eluded capture
by hiding on a farm, has turned up on the TV
Roadshow. Apparently, The
Times reports, it was fingerprints on this board game,
which later helped convict the gang.
That such an item could become revered, might be part of a modern
glamorisation of villainy. Ronnie Biggs and fellow gang members
began to be portrayed as romanticised folk heroes. Was the Great
Train Robbery the beginning of a process which lead to popular TV
series such as The
Sopranos and Dexter,
where hero and villain often appear inverted?
If heroes were supposed to be moral enough to still do the right
thing, despite facing difficult predicaments, does the modern
transformation of criminal to hero reveal something deeply
troubling about our era?
Psychologist Derek Rohleder has published a dissertation
shadow as hero in American culture: A Jungian analysis of the
villain archetype transformed.His thesis is that in modern
popular culture the villain has frequently been transformed into a
heroic figure. Dr Rohleder uses examples including Hannibal Lecter
the cannibal psychiatrist who has become the 'hero' of blockbuster
movies including The
Silence of the Lambs.
The 'rogue' or 'rebel' has long been a key element of heroic
character in fiction and real life, perhaps part of the confusion
here is that we assume the outlaw is naturally an underdog.
George Goethals and Scott Allison from the University of Richmond,
Virginia, USA, in their analysis of who the public regards as
heroic, have found that a key ingredient is the notion of the
underdog. In a paper entitled Making
Heroes: The Construction of Courage, Competence and Virtue,
they state how they found people root for, identify with, and are
most fond of, underdogs. Those who must struggle to achieve their
Their paper published in the journal Advances
in Experimental Social Psychologyexplains that this liking and
rooting for perceived underdogs, is so deep-rooted, it even holds
for inanimate objects, whose movements on a computer screen
activate scripts of struggle and effort against more powerful
They discovered in their own surveys of the public that when asked
if they had any heroes, 95% listed at least two heroes, and
two-thirds listed six or more in just a few minutes. Roughly a
third of heroes, from this research, are family members, a third
are real public figures, but the last third are fictional, often
from TV and film.
This indicates the media representation of heroic status is
Political strategists now make a standard attempt to cast even the
most wealthy, institutionalised candidates as actually battling
rebels, fearlessly taking on vested interests.
Our deep psychological needs for heroic individuals to idolise, who
triumph over adversity, is revealed by the structure of modern
popular stories in fiction and film. It's never 'systems' or
'committees' which ride out of the sunset, to the rescue of those
in distress, but instead it's the rebel loner.
Disobedience and defiance are also deliciously childish pleasures,
which the Freudians would probably contend are part of the romantic
allure of those who disregard rules.
Modern cynicism about our rulers is revealed in anti-heroes who
dissent and refuse to follow edicts.
The rise of the vigilante hero - who takes the law into their own
hands and meters out justice themselves, without waiting for due
process to creak into action, also reveals a lack of faith in 'the
system' to see injustice is punished.
But the reality of criminals, beneath the veneer of glamour which
Hollywood and paperback fiction likes to gloss over them, is that
these are often the immature and inadequate who want to take
They yearn for comfort and luxury without sweating through hard
work or delaying gratification required by scrimping and saving.
There is a part in all of us who is attracted to the short cut,
which might partly explain the allure of the criminal as hero. It's
the same draw as 'get rich quick' schemes.
However, Hollywood blockbusters today depict heists of labyrinthine
complexity, requiring such complex skills and hard work from the
heroic con artist or criminal, one wonders why they didn't just get
a high paying job that rewarded them legitimately for their
Instead, the plots require us to believe that being an outlaw,
dodging and diving outside the system, might be an inherently
preferable. The villain as hero is also more free than the
law-abiding rest of us, they don't care what others think of them
and this liberty from constraint or judgement suggests they possess
an independence of spirit, the rest of us crave.
The irony is that in pursuing this supposed self-determination, the
criminal ends up behind bars. How free is a fugitive anyway -
someone who has to keep looking behind his shoulder?
But the recent inversion of criminal and hero is important if the
heroic are vital in guiding and inspiring us. Should our idols
become those who are self-indulgent and selfish, we should beware.
True heroes are those who make huge personal sacrifices for noble
In the film Casablanca,
at first it seems that Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, will
not assist the Allied war cause. He famously declares "I stick my
neck out for nobody" and "I'm the only cause I'm interested in". He
appears the archetypal anti-hero, sulky, self-centred and running
what appears to be a shady night-club.
But in the climax of the story, he makes huge personal sacrifices
for someone he loves, and the Allied side.
It's psychologically intriguing that for Bogart to play one of the
greatest cinematic heroes of our time, he has to at first appear
bitter, selfish, dodgy.
The danger is, if we get confused over who are true heroes, as
opposed to those who just look rebellious, dangerous and glamorous,
we will lose out on truly inspiring figures.
We will end up being robbed.